Alumnus testimonial

Edel Heuvel - Pacific Regional Climate Change Advisor

Edel always aspired to work abroad. After starting her career in the Netherlands upon graduating in MID, she currently lives and works in the Pacific as a Regional Climate Change Advisor for Save The Children Australia.

I benefit a lot from all the courses in the Disaster track related to natural hazards and how this is interconnected with other developmental complexities

You work for Save The Children Australia. Can you explain what this organization aims to do?

“Save the Children is a leading humanitarian and development organization and believes in a world in which all children survive, have the chance to learn and are protected from abuse, neglect, and exploitation. Through our programming, emergency responses and advocacy, we put the most vulnerable children first. Save The Children’s work saves and improves the lives of children and their caretakers.”

Within the organization you are the Pacific Regional Climate Change Advisor. What does your job entail?

“I provide technical advice and support and strategic guidance to the Save the Children Country Office in the Pacific, including Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands and Vanuatu. I work closely together with staff to strengthen their knowledge and capacity with regards to the climate crisis, develop climate-related project proposals, design climate projects and advocacy initiatives. I also offer technical climate advice and support in project implementation, monitoring and evaluation. In this position I build strategic networks with government, local partners, international NGO’s, multilaterals, and other stakeholders to further Save the Children’s work on Climate Justice.”

Can you give an example of a project that you are currently involved in?

“Part of my job is to provide technical advice and support to the Vanuatu Community-based Climate Resilience Project (VCCRP), one of the largest community-based climate adaptation projects in the world. Vanuatu is the most vulnerable to disasters globally and the climate crisis is increasing their exposure to natural hazards. The VCCRP is a 6-year project that aims to strengthen the resilience to climate change by 1) strengthening government, civil society and communities to support local resilience to climate change impacts, including by providing access to climate information and early warnings, 2) implementing scalable, locally appropriate actions to meet community adaptation needs to create climate-resilient, sustainable development pathways and 3) enhancing institutional adaptive capacity by building adaptive governance systems at the local level and enhancing local-provincial-national linkages. The project is largely government-led and has a locally led approach, reaching over 90,000 people in the communities of Vanuatu.

You moved across the globe for this job. Was working abroad something you always aspired to do?

“Yes, I love experiencing and gaining more understanding of different cultures and how development work takes place in practice. In my previous jobs I worked in the Netherlands at a relatively abstract level, which taught me a lot on international development processes. However, I wanted to gain perspective of decisions made on the ground, to understand the complexities as well as the opportunities. What can seem a great idea from the Netherlands can be a terrible and illogical idea in a country itself. I wanted to go to Vanuatu to work with people who are in the frontline of the climate crisis and who are also engaged in some of the most innovative climate advocacy such as seeking the advisory opinion of the International Court of Justice on climate change and calling for global treaties on ecocide and to phase out fossil fuels.”

How has the MID-program helped you in your career?

“I have made lifelong friends and build a professional network during this master. The multidisciplinary courses of MID provided me with the theoretical and methodological background that allowed me to think critically and to view a problem from multiple angles. The thesis and the internship enabled me to put these skills to practice in the field. The MID-program is very rich in content and gave me a strong background in development issues.”

Do you recognize topics from the MID-program in your current position?

“I benefit a lot from all the courses in the Disaster track related to natural hazards and how this is interconnected with other developmental complexities: climate change impacts people directly and is also a multiplier effect of other development issues. MID also gave me insight in how development processes take time, planning and adaptive management. If you want to make a change for communities or governments, it is important to listen to what they need, their insights and perspectives on your program, and if and how they would like to contribute to make changes. This will potentially lead to different outcomes than you expected but will often be more beneficial to your project.”

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